Unintended Consequences: The Impact of Exclusion on Security
With thanks for brainstorming with me: Chevalier Cleaves, Director, Diversity and Inclusion, Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services, U.S. Air Force; Dr. Megan Doherty, GMF Fellow; and Carlton Yearwood, Senior Partner True Blue Inclusion. GMF will host “Inclusive Leadership for the Security Sector” July 26–28, 2017.
Inclusive leadership in the security sector strengthens intelligence, widens the talent pool, increases public trust, and improves decision-making. In contrast, exclusion in the form of explicit policies and mindsets as well as unconscious biases weakens these key elements of both domestic and national security. The case for inclusive leadership in security is underscored by scientific research. Canadian social scientist Dr. Sukhvinder S. Obhi’s research on power and the brain demonstrates that increased power causes a person to be “more reliant on stereotypes” and to have “reduced perspective taking ability.” Increased power, power unshared, can make it difficult to take frustrations seriously or to see when patience is running out and when danger may be at hand. Elites and intelligence services weaken their predictive capabilities through a lack of diversity in intelligence services, lack of social capital in non-elite communities and across generations, and through power discrepancies that result in a lack of empathetic listening to reveal the deeper trends in societies.
Given the practical case for inclusive leadership in security agencies, forward-looking policymakers within the U.S. federal government are building the framework for corresponding shifts. Most recently, U.S. Congress introduced “The National Security Diversity and Inclusion Workforce Act of 2017” to codify the 2016 presidential memorandum for “Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in the National Security Workforce” as well as Executive Order 13583, issued in 2013 to advance diversity across the federal workforce.
As experts recognize the benefits of inclusive leadership in security and put more focus on this field, instances of its absence become even more striking. Since GMF first convened the transatlantic exchange “Mission Critical, Diversity and Inclusion Best Practices for Militaries” in November 2013, the negative impact of exclusion on security in our cities and nations has dominated front page news. U.S. cities continue to face the societal impact of exclusive behaviors in policing that challenge the core U.S. value of equality, for example, bringing about the Black Lives Matter movement striving for racial justice. These events impact the whole of the United States, its identity, morale, and its ability to project power abroad. The answer will prove to be not simply increasing diversity in the ranks of the police, but also to address systemic racism, compensate for the impact of the power of uniforms, and build ties of mutual respect with new generations
What are the next steps for leaders?
It is essential to define the goal: an approach to security that is comprehensive, designed for all in our societies, with wide input, and ensured by security forces that are reflective of our highly diverse populations.
With this goal in mind, those at the forefront of advancing inclusive security can identify best practices. At the local level, Carlos Menchaca (TILN ’15) of the City Council of New York City took a step in inclusive leadership for security through participatory budgeting. He brought his constituents together to identify and budget for security priorities in their neighborhoods, and in this way maximized insights and innovation about how to meet security challenges, from where to locate security cameras to how best to engage young residents.
At the national level, the U.K. is now stepping up investment to engage in recruitment and build social capital with underserved urban communities that have been largely excluded from the security equation, except to be cast as “the other,” in a cycle of alienation with the police, and passed over for pathways into service in security forces. Such a cycle of alienation could help account for the recent period in the United Kingdom when more young Muslim citizens were recruited into the self-proclaimed Islamic State than into the British armed forces — bringing about the U.K.’s essential and strategic new focus on increasing inclusion in security.
As our societies move on the continuum toward super diversity with no majority population, pathways for diverse young talent into security roles becomes ever more essential. Yet, we continue to see biases in place that bring about police forces not yet reflective of or sufficiently collaborative with the communities they serve, and a military in the United States that is strong on intake of minority recruits yet still deficient in advancement of diverse talent toward leadership roles. Likewise, as European nations undergo demographic change, pathways must be put in place for recruitment, retention, and advancement of diverse talent in the security sector. As we address these deficits and implement inclusive leadership, we will strengthen the security of our nations.
The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.